Inside Out Page 36

“I hope he is one of the ‘few things’ you needed to check on. And not a Pop Cop in disguise?” he asked me.

“Yes. Logan’s here to see if he can help with the computer system.”

“Unless he’s a technological wizard, he—”

Logan spotted the computer and wasted no time. He settled before the monitor. I helped Domotor into his chair and wheeled him closer to Logan.

The Tech No squealed in delight. His fingers flew over the keyboard. “You have a port!” He grinned.

“Yes, but you can’t—”

“I know stealth mode. I’ll be like a ghost. What are you trying to do?”

Domotor launched into technical double-talk. Logan’s eyes lit with the challenge. The prophet nodded and made impressed noises as they worked. I settled on the couch. My desire to interrupt to inquire about clothes for Cog’s ruse warred with my desire for sleep. I tried to remember the last time I slept. The effort needed to calculate proved too much for my exhausted brain, so I rested my head on the couch’s arm.

“...need an upper computer to access the data,” Logan said.

I sat up and rubbed my eyes. The vision of Logan and Domotor peering at me with twin concerned expressions failed to dissipate.

“What happened?” I asked.

“We figured out where the information is,” Domotor said.

His demeanor didn’t match his words. “But…”

“It can only be accessed from a computer on the upper levels.” He gave me a few seconds to let the news sink in. “Can you get Logan to level four?”

“Doesn’t he need a port?” I asked.

“Not anymore.” Logan smiled with smug satisfaction. “I set up my own account; all I need is a password and the right connection.”

“Why won’t it work here?”

Logan tried to describe the inhibitor function on a lower-level computer. I lost him after the second word.

Domotor thankfully interrupted. “Five minutes is all he would need. Can you do it, Trell?”

Could I? Crawling through heating vents was easier than climbing to another level. I doubted Logan had the upper-body strength needed to pull himself up the chains. Unless…We could ride on top of the lift. But where would we find an unoccupied computer and, if we did find one, then how long would it remain unoccupied?

“I need a few hours to think about it.”

“Perhaps Riley could help,” Domotor said. “I’m sure he would know where to find a computer.”

“I don’t think we should involve him,” I said.

“Who’s Riley?” Logan asked.

“It’s better you don’t know.” Too many knew about us already. Our chances of getting caught increased with each new person. Maximum damage, I chanted in my mind.

“He’s proven himself trustworthy. This is too important to leave to chance,” Domotor said.

I grumbled even though he was right.

“We’d better go. I don’t want to be late for my shift,” Logan said.

His words reminded me to ask Domotor about his clothes.

“Sure, take what you need.”

When I returned from his room with the pants and shirt he had worn the day we had rescued him, Logan grabbed the shirt. He jerked off the top button. I remembered the microphone.

“Don’t want to lose this,” he said, then handed me the disks. “We don’t need these, though.”

I looked at Domotor. He avoided my gaze and shifted in his chair as if searching for a more comfortable position. Waiting, I tapped the disks—the irresistible bait that lured me on this fool’s errand—against my legs.

Eventually, he gave me a sheepish grin. “The programs on them are worthless now. If I could have used them before I was caught, they would have worked.”

“But they can help Cog,” Logan said.

They would delay the inevitable. I pushed those morbid thoughts away. “It’s better than nothing.”

Hour ten and Logan had reported to his shift on time, the clothes and disks had been hidden in the storage closet and I had to figure a way to get Logan to level four. I stopped by the laundry room. All the clothes for Inside were washed here. Scrubs rolled big white canvas bins to transport piles of clean and dirty garments. Bins also stood under the chutes to collect the uniforms and clothes from the upper levels.

Along the left side wall rested stacks of clean uniforms for the scrubs. Each pile was specific to a different work area and was sorted by size. The blue color of the pipe scrubs seemed bright compared to the rest. Laundry and kitchen scrubs wore the same white uniform.

Stealing scrubs’ clothes was easy. A steady stream of people headed to and away from the stacks and no one cared if you picked up one or a hundred. The uppers’ clothes, though, were placed in marked bins—one per family. Pop Cops kept a close watch over them.

After a circuit around the room, I left knowing I would be unable to borrow a few uppers’ garments from the bins. However, if I wasn’t picky, I could intercept a few items as they traveled down the chutes.

I rigged a net in one of the shafts. Clogs in the chutes were rare, but not unheard of. Hopefully, I’d catch a Logan-sized disguise.

My next problem would be harder to solve. Climbing to Riley’s room on level four, I reviewed my options for finding a computer terminal. I could spy on one of the upper’s suites. Keeping track of their comings and goings, I could determine when the suite would be empty. But how long would it take? And, working my own shifts, I would only have half the picture.

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